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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Families cope with 'betrayal'
Jane Ashton-Hibbert
Jane Asthon-Hibbert's grandmother was killed
Relatives of the victims of Harold Shipman say their strongest feeling is one of betrayal after the inquiry's findings were released.

Harold Shipman was a trusted member of the community in Hyde, Greater Manchester, and even had the support of some of the relatives when charges were first brought against him.

Two of the relatives attended a news conference after Dame Janet Smith's inquiry revealed that Shipman killed at least 215 people.

The families said the question of why the 56-year-old GP killed will probably remain unanswered.


It makes me so angry that he's put this black cloud over our town

Jane Ashton-Hibbert
Shipman was convicted of the murder of 15 people including Kathleen Wagstaff.

Her son, Peter, said: "Shipman was a doctor we respected and looked up to and we were among the people who supported him in the early days of the investigation.

"It is very hard now to put your finger on how you feel about the man.

"I don't think I've met anyone who says they hate him because I don't think they can understand what's happened.

"You can come to terms with the fact that you've been dealing with one of the most evil people in history but the actual personal feelings are harder come to terms with."

Peter Wagstaff
Peter Wagstaff says no one will ever know why

Jane Ashton-Hibbert's grandmother, Hilda Hibbert, was also killed by Shipman but he has never stood trial for it.

She said: "I can't reconcile the doctor who came to deliver my sister and looked after me when I had my daughter, with the doctor I know now.

"The hardest thing to come to terms with is the betrayal.

"We should be shocked by the figures but we've known for some time that there was going to be more than 100.

"It makes me so angry that he's put this black cloud over our town, but we will pull through."

The inquiry could not find a motive for Shipman's crimes.

Mr Wagstaff said: "All the psychologists in the world have tried to answer that but no one has come up with the right answer.

Families' solicitor Ann Alexander
Ann Alexander says the inquiry will help families

"It's neither sexist nor ageist, so who has the answer. He (Shipman) isn't going to give us the answer."

Dame Janet Smith said that in addition to the 215 confirmed killings, there were a further 45 where there was a strong suspicion of Shipman's involvement.

The families' solicitor Ann Alexander sympathised with the relatives of the 45, saying: "I hope they will feel that a thorough investigation has been carried out and they can now begin to come to terms with their loss."

Ms Ashton-Hibbert said: "There's far too many questions in this case and not enough answers.

"I'm glad the families have had individual verdicts and can now come to some sort of finality."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"The former GP will remain in prison for the rest of his life"
Jude Lang, daughter of one of Shipman's victims
"I couldn't believe he would do something like that. We trusted him"
Ann Alexander, solicitor for victims' families
"There's still a great amount of raw grief out there"

Key stories

The human cost

Background

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See also:

19 Jul 02 | Health
19 Jul 02 | England
18 Jul 02 | Health
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